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Health Care for America Now

"Ensuring Americans in Illinois and across the country have access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage is one of my top priorities. I am proud to join HCAN's efforts to tackle the tough challenges we face in reforming our nation's healthcare system."

-- President Barack Obama

Health Care for America Now

Passage of the Affordable Care Act was nothing short of winning the greatest expansion of health care in the last half-century and Citizen Action/Illinois led the fight in Illinois. As part of the Health Care for America Now campaign, we collected tens of thousands of signatures, generated thousands of phone calls and marched to build grassroots-led support for Obamacare. 

The Health Benefits Exchange Act

Ensures Access to Quality and Affordable Insurance

A key provision in the Affordable Care Act is the creation of Health Benefits Exchanges in each state by 2014.  These Exchanges will operate as a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to compare and buy quality and affordable health insurance.  Over the last year, stakeholders and political leaders have been working to create an Exchange structure that best serves the families of Illinois.

The creation of an Exchange for over 1 million Illinoisans is no small task.  It will require technology that can help employers, employees, individuals, brokers and navigators determine their eligibility for subsidies, handle different plan requirements, and help thousands of beneficiaries move between Medicaid, subsidized coverage and small business coverage in any given year.  It will require a fully functioning and funded governance board to oversee the creation and implementation of the Exchange and secure federal funding by the Fall of 2012.

The Health Care Exchange

With the establishment of a marketplace for purchasing healthcare through an exchange, we will begin the next phase of work that needs to be accomplished to modernize our healthcare system in a way that is fair and equitable to all who participate - from the providers, to the insurers - to the patients.

There are key principles that we believe are crucial for the success of a vibrant and affordable Health Exchange marketplace:

Quality benefits: Central to the Exchange is the ability to set minimal levels of quality on health insurance.  The Exchange must guarantee that the gold, silver and bronze plans all meet this standard.

Affordability: Market concentration in Illinois is not adequate to hold down insurance costs.  The Exchange must have mechanisms that control cost, keeping health insurance affordable for all.

No Cherry Picking: A major threat to a successful Exchange is the “cherry picking” of healthier clients.  The Exchange must have the ability to stop the practice of pushing riskier clients into the Exchange (adverse selection).

Autonomy: The Exchange must have an adequate funding stream that ensures long-term viability of the program and prevents political influence on its ability to operate effectively.

Governance: The Exchange’s governing board must have the expertise to work effectively and the safeguards to prevent anyone directly benefiting from the decisions of the board.